UK faces winter of strikes as workers demand higher pay

Britain faces widespread industrial unrest in the run-up to the Christmas holiday and into January as workers struggling with double-digit inflation resort to strike action to demand better pay and working conditions.

Below are some of the industries in which labour unions have undertaken or threatened strikes, echoing actions across Europe:


Large sections of Britain’s rail network have been repeatedly brought to a standstill over recent months.

Tens of thousands of railway workers will stage further strikes before and after Christmas in a dispute over pay and conditions. Commuters are bracing for severe travel disruption over the festive period.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has said more than 40,000 rail workers will walkout on Dec. 13-14, 16-17, 24-27, Jan. 3-4, and 6-7 after failing to reach an agreement with train operators.

Train drivers working for London Overground suspended strike action planned for Nov. 26 following a pay offer made to members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union which will now be voted on.

Another union, The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said further industrial action had been scheduled for December in a dispute over pay, job security, and conditions, with strikes at Avanti West Coast on Dec. 13, 14, 16, and 17.

RMT members working as cleaners throughout the transport network have also voted to strike.


Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) faces unprecedented industrial action from staff still dealing with the aftermath of the hit to services from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a record 7 million patients on waiting lists for hospital treatment.

Thousands of British nurses will go on strike on Dec. 15 and Dec. 20 after the government refused to meet their pay demands, the Royal College of Nursing union said.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors, said its junior doctor members would ballot for industrial action in early January after the government failed to meet their pay demands.

It has also said other groups of doctors it represents will consider their next steps, warning it is “on a collision course with the government”.


More than 10,000 ambulance workers across England and Wales will strike on Dec. 21 and 28 in a dispute over pay and working conditions, the GMB union said.

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff at nine regional ambulance services are set to walk out.

Two other trade unions, Unison and Unite, also announced that ambulance workers who are their members would strike on Dec. 21 over a pay dispute.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has begun balloting firefighters and control staff on potential strike action after a 5% pay offer. The vote closes on Jan. 30, the union said.


Teachers across Scotland have carried out strike action for the first time in almost 40 years after talks on a pay deal broke down.

Members of Scotland’s largest teaching union, the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), walked out of classrooms on Nov. 24 and the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has also announced two days of strike action on Dec. 7 and 8 over an ongoing pay dispute.

Hundred of thousands of teachers and education staff in England and Wales began voting in October on whether to carry out strike action in a dispute over pay and funding. The ballot closes in January.

The NASUWT union said it was balloting its roughly 162,000 members working in schools and colleges on industrial action in England and Wales for the first time since 2011.


British postal workers at the century’s-old post and parcel company Royal Mail (IDSI.L) have held several rounds of strikes this year in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

The latest round of walkouts by members of the Communications and Workers Union (CWU) over 10 days in late November and throughout December was expected to disrupt Black Friday and pre-Christmas deliveries.


Some 40,000 BT Group (BT.L) workers, including telecoms engineers and 999 emergency call handlers, carried out a series of national strikes in October in a dispute over pay.

The CWU, which represents workers at the BT Group and its networking arm Openreach, previously held similar walkouts in July and August.

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